Sun view of Comet Siding Spring and the Mars orbiting fleet
Released on October 16, 2014
This visualization shows active spacecraft orbiting Mars and their relationship to Comet Siding Spring. The comet passes very close to Mars on October 19, 2014. The camera is looking from the direction of the Sun towards Mars. The camera is fixed to Mars and the orbit trail of Mars goes off to the right.
As Comet Siding-Spring makes its way through the Martian neighborhood it reaches the closest distance at about 18:32 UT. Debris left by the comet follows behind the comet on the line representing where the comet was. This derbis impacts Mars at about 20:08 UT. Scientists and engineers are concerned that the derbis may harm the spacecraft. Several of the spacecraft have executed orbital maneuvers to put them on the opposite side of Mars when the debris impacts.